Disney World Reopens New Gondola System After Guests Left Hanging in Midair
Update: Tuesday, Oct. 15 2019: Disney re-opened its gondola service on Monday, more than a week after closing it due to a mid-air debacle.
Disney closed the service last Saturday after several guests were left stranded mid-air between stops. Crews were unable to rescue guests for several hours, leaving them with only a small emergency kit inside each gondola.
Disney has yet to disclose the cause of the mishap. However, in a blog post, Disney explained, “Following a complete review with the manufacturer, we’ve made adjustments to our processes and training, and we are improving how we communicate with guests during their flight with Disney Skyliner. We again offer our deepest apologies to the guests impacted by the malfunction that resulted in extended operating delays on Oct. 5.”
The post added that all gondolas will be operational from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. System updates later this week will impact some service, however, including the Disney Hollywood Studios line, which will be closed on Oct.16.
The Skyliner, The Points Guy reported, stalled along one of its three routes while carrying guests between hotels and various parks. The stall then caused two empty gondolas to crash, furthering the delay. Guests were left hanging above the ground for about three hours.
Emmie Palmer, a guest on the gondolas when they stalled, told CNN it took about 45 minutes for the fire department to arrive. However, she and her friends were still forced to wait another two hours before being rescued from their gondola.
Courtney Cole, another passenger stranded in a different gondola, said she and her boyfriend were left hanging with six others. While onboard the gondola the group was reportedly told there was an emergency kit under the seat. It was filled with water, glow sticks and a few first aid supplies.
Cole said she and her boyfriend, Aaron Murray, saw a woman being taken out on a stretcher.
"Evacuating two people at a time off of the Disney World Skyliner... could be very slow with 10 capacity gondolas," Aaron Murray, Cole’s boyfriend tweeted.
While it may seem like an awfully long time to take to rescue people, firefighters from Reedy Creek say the event took up “all” of their manpower.
“If anything else would have been going on [at Disney] at that moment, it could have been catastrophic," union secretary Ryan O’Reilly told The Orlando Sentinel. He additionally noted past complaints that Disney World is dangerously understaffed for emergencies.
For its part, a Disney spokesperson told The Orlando Sentinel they are investigating the situation.
“We apologize for this situation, and we are working with each guest individually regarding impacts to their visit with us,” the spokesperson said.
By 11 p.m. guests were freed. They were also reportedly given gift cards and park tickets to make up for the issue.